Public History I (HIC1200)

StaffDr Bryony Onciul - Lecturer
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The aim of this module is to provide you with a core theoretical understanding of the key issues in Public History. You will have the opportunity to put theory into practice in the assignments and placement, which will help you to critically review and engage with current debates in the field. You will acquire competency in a number of transferable skills, including experience in basic oral history interview methodology and writing for the public. The module includes work experience that will enable you to put your skills into practice in the public sphere and reflect critically upon the interrelations between theory and practice in public history.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Understand main concepts and debates within public history
  • 2. Demonstrate competency in oral history methods and writing for the public
  • 3. Reflect critically upon the relationship between theory and practice

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Demonstrate competent use of archives, libraries and electronic databases to find information
  • 5. Critically evaluate the use of historical evidence
  • 6. Contextualize changing perspectives and approaches over time

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Work collaboratively on group exercises
  • 8. Work independently on oral history interview and public history placement
  • 9. Develop oral presentation skills

Syllabus plan

Term One

Weeks 1-3      Public history origins, development, concepts and debates.

Weeks 4-7      Analysing exhibits, producing and consuming public history. Visit.

Weeks 8-9     Ethics and controversy

Week 10-12    Oral history, public and private pasts, and interview methods


Term Two

Weeks 1-3      Heritage designation and funding; Engaging with and representing communities

Weeks 4-8     Public history in film, fiction, digital media, and archives. Visit.

Week 10-11    Working with the public, placements and projects 


Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching 22lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching 18seminars
Scheduled learning and teaching 62 x fieldtrips, museum and heritage site
Scheduled learning and teaching 22xplacement talks and 1x meeting
Work experience 1 week40Self organized work experience
Independant Study 212

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Oral PresentationsShort (15 minutes) group presentations during specified seminars in semester one and two1, 3-7, 9Verbal

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Exhibition and Oral History Portfolio501500 words1-6, 8Written feedback
Placement Portfolio501500 words 1, 3-6, 8Verbal and written feedback sheet

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Exhibition and Oral History Portfolio Essay 1.500w1,3-6, 8Referral/deferral period
Placement PortfolioEssay 1.500w1,3-6, 8Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

The essay will be used as 100% of the reassessment.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Ashton, P. and H. Kean, (eds.) (2009) People and their Pasts. New York: Palgrave.

Corsane, G. (ed.) (2005) Heritage, Museums and Galleries. An Introductory Reader.  New York: Routledge.

Dicks, B. (2003) Culture on Display. The Production of Contemporary Visitability. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Groot, J. de. (2009) Consuming History. Historians and heritage in contemporary popular culture. London: Routledge.

Hamilton, P. and L. Shopes, (eds.) (2008) Oral History and Public Memories. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Harrison, R. (ed.) (2010) Understanding the politics of heritage. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Karp, I. and S. D. Lavine (1991) Exhibiting cultures : the poetics and politics of museum display. London: Smithsonian Books

Knell, S.J., S. MacLeod and S. Watson (eds.) (2007) Museum Revolutions. How museums change and are changed. London: Routledge.

Lord B. and G. Dexter Lord (eds.) (2001) The Manual of Museum Exhibitions. Oxford: AltaMira Press.

Macdonald, S. (ed.) (2006) A Companion to Museum Studies. Blackwell.

Marstine, J. (ed.) (2011) The Routledge Companion to Museum Ethics. London: Routledge.

Perks, R. and A. Thomson (2006) The Oral History Reader, 2nd ed. London: Routledge.

Ravelli, L., (2006) Museum Texts: Communication Frameworks. Oxon: Routledge.

Serrell, B. (1996) Labels: An Interpretive Approach. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press.

Watson, S. (ed.) (2007) Museums and their communities. London: Routledge.

Yow, V. (2005) Recording Oral History: A Guide for the Humanities and Social Sciences, 2nd ed. Altamira Press.


Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

on ELE

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Courtney Library, Bartlett Library, Cornwall Record Office, Tremough Archive.

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

History, Heritage, Museums